None More Black: An Interview with UADA
It started with a bang. There was nary a murmur. No signs of life. No indication of what was to follow. But, in deepest Portland (OR), something dark was being insidiously cultivated.
The seed was planted a little more than a year ago, and during that time, it has been furtively watered, nurtured and matured. Then suddenly, out from under the cover of darkness, bang! In April, UADA’s Devoid of Light was born, and released to the world as a fully-grown Erebus. There was no weaning, no teething-pains, no truancy, no smoking behind the bike shed, and certainly no fistfights (at least none that were witnessed by prying eyes). Devoid of Light displays a maturity not typically found on a debut LP, and so it’s quite surprising that there were no preceding demos or EPs. The band obviously knows the message that they want to convey, and they have the skills, the creativity and the attention to detail to fully realize it. Shortly after the album was released, they toured the West Coast, and I was fortunate to chat with Jake Superchi (vocals, guitar) before the show. He kindly agreed to indulge me with his first non-German Toilet-side chat.
Hey, Jake. How’s it going and what are you up to?
Jake: Greetings. I’m doing well, been very busy on the UADA front.
You formed in October 2014, did your first gig in January 2015, performed a bunch of shows in the Pacific Northwest, released your debut album in April of this year, and completed a West Coast tour in the same month! That’s sounds like the work of some highly motivated individuals. What’s driving this?
Jake: Our will and desire to do what it is we absolutely love, and that is write, create and perform our art. This is a band running on all cylinders and we’re just getting started.
Tell our readers a little bit about the band’s backstory. I know that you’ve been involved in a lot of different bands (I’m not sure which ones are currently still active) and Trevor (drums) and James (Guitar) were in Infernus. How did the band start and what were your goals?
Jake: I personally reached out to both Trevor and James about the possibility of getting together and starting a new project. I had a vision and a few song ideas and met them for a meeting to share. We plugged in, tuning was the same, tones matched up perfectly, and we started writing and the first song was born.
How would you describe your sound for anyone that hasn’t yet heard the band?
In January, you signed with Eisenwald to release your record. Obviously, the label has a stellar roster (Drudkh, Forteresse, Fluisteraars, and new kids Cantique Lépreux, to name but a few) but, did you have any concerns about signing with a German label? What were the pros and cons?
Jake: No concerns. Eisenwald has a great roster and we are excited to be apart of that right now. They’ve been very accommodating to our needs and we have no complaints. I think the biggest pro right now is having a label in Europe. We are a new band wanting to do big things, and for us Europe is the big time. So having that exposure and press in those countries is very important to us.
Scouring your Facebook page, it doesn’t read like the page of a newer band. There are countless posts regarding album reviews (mostly in German), numerous live reviews (even one written by yours truly), and untold commentary from some of the metal scene’s biggest websites. Are you surprised by level of coverage and the positive feedback that the band’s receiving?
Jake: We are very humbled.
As I mentioned, a lot of the coverage (at least the album reviews) is in German. I don’t know what’s being said but as you’re sharing the links, they must be good, right? Is Eisenwald sending you a translation or are you reading half-baked gibberish on Google translate?
Jake: A bit of both including some of the reviewers themselves.
You premiered a video for “Devoid of Light”on April 6th. I must admit that when I first saw it I couldn’t believe the quality, especially the first 30 seconds or so. The budget must have been enormous (wink, wink). How did the concept, location and filming come about?
Jake: The director of the video Tim Keenan Burgess was showing up to a lot of our shows and filmed our first few. When we first met after the fact, he casually mentioned doing a music video, and we began discussing ideas and goals.
The first few locations chosen were places here near my home. They both have an importance and were what I was envisioning in my head. The other location was chosen by the director for the fire scenes.
Did you get your boots wet scrambling over those rocks to get that perfect shot?
Jake: You may not be able to tell very much but the majority of this video was shot in the pouring rain. No surprise living here in the Pacific Northwest though, we knew we were going to get drenched, muddy and bloody for this one. But that is the type of band we are, not afraid to get our boots wet.
While watching the video, some of the more astute viewers may notice there are only three of you in it (Mike the bass player is missing). You told me at the Oakland show that he quit just before the shoot. What, with a new album coming out, and an impending tour, that must have left you in a pickle?
Jake: I was never worried or felt pressure, just one more thing to deal with but I knew we’d be fine. We had plenty of options.
How did you recover from that, and how did you find new bass player (Robb) so quickly?
Jake: When first meeting with Trevor and James about UADA, I had mentioned Robb as who I had in mind for a bassist. Although it didn’t go that route in the beginning when the opportunity arose I wrote Robb. It was pretty quick, a few days.
One of the strengths of Devoid of Light is the constant evolution in texture and sound, driven by a myriad of tempo changes, none seeming out of place or forced. It also doesn’t hurt that the songs are riddled with infectious melodies. Tell us about your song writing process and how you decide what goes where in each song to create flow and dynamics.
Jake: This is the writing structure I’ve always used for music, it just comes natural. When we get together and write and play these songs we pay attention to every detail, and if something doesn’t feel quite right we adjust until it does. Nothing is ever forced.
Your debut album is kinda short, but when we met, you said that you already had enough material for two more albums. Are all the songs that you mention newly written songs or did you make a conscious decision to leave off a few songs to keep the debut short and sweet?
Jake: We do have our second album written, and a lot of ideas on hold for the third. We purposely planned for a short release with Devoid of Light. We didn’t keep anything off the album other than an intro track that we use live.
With so much new material already composed, how will you decide which songs you will put on each album? I assume that you want to demonstrate some sort of evolution between records.
Jake: We use what we write as we go. Our future ideas are documented via tabs or recordings and then we’ll come back to those when the time is right.
I normally wouldn’t ask this question (as you only released your album a few months ago), but when are you planning on recording and releasing some of this new material?
Jake: We’re in pre-production stages right now. 2017 will see the next UADA release.
You’ve been playing a lot of live shows lately, and on June 15th you’re going to be opening for one of my favorite bands, the mighty Taake! That’s got to be pretty exciting.
Jake: It is. Taake is a great band and we are honored to share the stage with them. I personally was lucky enough to do a mini-tour in a past band of mine with Gorgoroth in Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala & Costa Rica). At the time Hoest was doing vocals for them, so I look forward to meeting again.
What’s next as far as tours go? I’m sure that Eisenwald want to get you over to Europe pretty soon.
Jake: We were just personally invited on a 3 day Pacific Northwest mini-tour with Inquisition as well as Metal Threat Fest in Chicago. All these events will happen next month in July. We have some other plans for later this year and hope to make our way to Europe next year.
The band’s aesthetic (boots, black pants, leather jacket and hoods) is not uncommon these days. How did you settle upon this look and what statement (if any) are you trying to make?
Jake: It’s really our street clothes; it rains here a lot in the PNW. I never leave the house without a hood, unless it’s the middle of summer. We did though, intend this as a message against false image, ego and the clichés that Black Metal has gathered over the years. It’s also a great representation of the eclipse as we’re eclipsing self from art and letting the art speak for itself.
We like riffs at the Toilet ov Hell, and every Saturday, we have a Riff Of The Week (ROTW) competition where readers submit a riff that meets the criteria of that week’s competition in the hopes of winning absolutely nothing. If there was a UADA ROTW edition which riff would you submit and why?
Jake: That’s a tough one. I think the riffs I’d like to submit we haven’t released yet.
Well, Jake, thanks for taking the time to do the interview. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before I let you go?
Jake: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me here. It was as a pleasure meeting you in Oakland. I hope we’ll make our way back down to your neck of the woods soon. Cheers.